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Detroit Lions Reporter Tom Kowalski Dies At 51

Detroit Lions reporter Tom Kowalski died suddenly Monday morning, according to his fiancee, Diane Wolan.

The 51-year-old Kowalski covered the Lions for Booth Newspapers and MLive.com. He was found unresponsive at his home and was taken to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Kowalski started for Booth Newspapers in 1997 after covering the Lions for the Oakland Press. His last story for MLive.com was posted online Monday morning.

“My heart broke this morning when I heard the news. I love Tom Kowalski,” said Bill Emkow, executive editor at MLive.com. “He was my friend. I trusted him, and I know he trusted me. He is the first reporter that bought into what we were doing with MLive.com. I needed someone to buy into what we were doing online, and he was the huge star for Booth. I don’t know why he listened to me, but he helped make MLive what you know it as today.”

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ESPN Releases College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon Schedule

One of the days that I’ve circled on my calendar the last three years is ESPN’s College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon.

The network has delivered another fantastic lineup starting Tuesday, Nov. 15 at midnight ET.

The ESPN family of networks will broadcast 19 games including two women’s games for the first time. ESPN3.com will carry two exclusive games along with a simulcast of every ESPN and ESPN2 telecast. Read more

Video: Youkilis Pairs Up With Biz Markie

The walk-up song for Kevin Youkilis has long been “Just a Friend” by Biz Markie, a little play on words as “Youuuuuu got what I need” easily becomes “Youkkkk….got what I need.” It was probably just a matter of time until someone got the two together for a little duet, which is what Boston area car dealer Herb Chambers did in a new ad for his dealership.

Newark Bears Post Earthquake Update For Kids' Parents

Parents worried that they’re children might have come into harm’s way at the Newark Bears baseball clinic during this afternoon east coast earthquake were allayed by an posting on the front page of the Bears’ website. It reads, “Earth Quake Update! Any parents that have their kids at our youth baseball clinic today, the kids are fine. They are having lunch with the players. We kept them on the field during the earth quake. If you have any additional concerns and you can’t reach me through phone, please email me at kgossar@newarkbears.com.”

Gary Stevenson Hired To Run Pac-12 Enterprises

The Pac-12 has hired sports media and marking executive Gary Stevenson to lead the Conference’s new Pac-12 Enterprises company.

Stevenson’s 30-plus years of experience includes stops at the Golf Channel, the NBA, and the PGA Tour. He’s also head of his own consulting firm, OnSport.

According to the release, “Stevenson will oversee a diversified and integrated media company, including the Pac-12 Networks, the Pac-12 Digital Network, and Pac-12 Properties, which will handle all sponsorship, licensing and event management (including the new Pac-12 Football Championship Game and Pac-12 Basketball Tournaments] for the Conference. He will also be responsible for creating a new integrated sales team across all of the new Conference owned media and event platforms, and for creating and executing a strategy to extend Pac-12 programming to international audiences, especially in the Pacific Rim, where the Conference already enjoys wide recognition for the quality of its athletic competition and for the prestige of its member universities’ academic and research programs.” Read more

Versus to Launch New Weekly NFL Series

NFL Films and NBC Sports Group will be producing a new behind-the-scenes weekly show that looks at two NFL games. NFL Turning Point will premiere Thursday, Sept. 15 at 10 p.m. ET/PT and will air on Versus. This is the first NFL program to ever air on Versus, which will be re-named the NBC Sports Network Jan. 2.

“Showcasing the sounds and images of the game, from the smallest detail to the big picture has been our strength for nearly 50 years,” said NFL Films President Steve Sabol. “We are thrilled to get an opportunity to produce that type of show with a new partner in Versus.”

“NFL Turning Point is symbolic of the high-quality, relevant programming viewers will see more of on our national, all-sports cable platform,” said Mark Lazarus, chairman of NBC Sports Group. “It unites two of sports’ premier storytellers in NBC Sports and NFL Films to bring viewers a new perspective on the game.”

It’ll also serve as NBC’s own form of self-promotion, as the show will often include games featuring teams that are playing against each other during the upcoming Sunday night game on NBC.

WNBA to Put Ads on 10 of 12 Team Unis

The WNBA has announced a partnership with Boost Mobile that will place ads on the uniforms of 1o of the league’s 12 teams, with the Boost corporate logo appearing on uniform fronts directly below the players’ numbers. The Phoenix Mercury and San Antonio Silver Stars will not wear the logos because they conflict with existing mobile sponsorship deals. The new jerseys will premiere tomorrow night.

Surprisingly, WNBA purists (they exist, right?) are not up in arms about this. Considering how whiny baseball fans got about the possibility of putting Spiderman 2 ads on the sides of bases, this probably wouldn’t have washed in MLB.

None of the big four American sports leagues allow this type of prominent uniform advertising, although it’s common in overseas leagues such as Premier League soccer and also in NASCAR. Ongoing economic constraints contributed to this move by the WNBA. And frankly, what’s the harm? Even if they placed these on MLB uniforms, you’d notice them initially and then probably not at all.

“An award-winning and dynamic brand such as Boost Mobile is a great fit as the WNBA’s marquee partner,” said WNBA President Laurel J. Richie. “The WNBA and Boost Mobile are two prominent brands and this groundbreaking relationship will provide both our fans and Boost Mobile’s customers a great platform from which to be heard. Our partnership is a watershed moment for the WNBA, one that underscores the tremendous growth of our league and women’s basketball over the past 15 years.”

Boost Mobile will also be the presenting partner of the WNBA Playoffs and WNBA Finals, and will appear in ads throughout WNBA arenas.

UFC, FOX Sports Formally Announce Agreement

LOS ANGELES – The cat was let out of the bag earlier this week, but FOX is officially the new home of the UFC, thanks to a seven-year, multi-media rights agreement with Zuffa, LLC.

The first UFC event on FOX will happen on Nov. 12 at the Honda Center in Anaheim, Calif – the same night as the Manny Pacquiao vs. Juan Manuel Marquez pay-per-view from Las Vegas. The remaining UFC content across the FOX networks begins in January 2012.

Fans of The Ultimate Fighter will be happy to know that the reality MMA show will be live for the first time ever. All 12 TUF fights will air live on FX instead of prerecorded.

The final season of TUF on Spike will start in September.

FX will also televise six live UFC cards per year.

“Mixed martial arts is not only the fastest-growing sport in the world but also the world’s most exciting form of man-to-man competition, and the UFC is the world’s premier MMA organization,” said Eric Shanks, president and co-COO of FOX Sports Media Group. “Since FOX Sports is America’s No. 1 sports network and FOX is America’s No. 1 network for young adults, the UFC on FOX is a perfect match.”

Nessler, Dilfer To Call Raiders-Broncos On MNF

For the second consecutive year, Brad Nessler and Trent Dilfer will call the second game of ESPN’s Monday Night Football doubleheader on Sept. 12 between the Oakland Raiders and Denver Broncos.

Nessler will make his third appearance calling play-by-play for MNF. During the college football season, Nessler will work alongside Todd Blackledge and he’s the new voice of the NFL Network’s eight-game package.

Following the Radiers-Broncos assignment, Dilfer will resume his role as studio analyst and will appear on Monday Night Countdown alongside Steve Young and Stuart Scott during the 2011 NFL season.

Anything beats the days of Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic in the MNF booth – my ears are still recovering from that failed experiment.

 

 

Ron Thomas To Receive Lifetime Achievement Award

Morehouse’s Journalism and Sports Program director Ron Thomas will be recognized by Sport in Society and the Northeastern University School of Journalism with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism.

Before landing at Morehouse in 2007, Thomas worked for nearly 30 years in the Bay Area, writing for the San Francisco Chronicle, USA Today and San Francisco Examiner. He’s currently the chief copy editor of the African American Sports Magazine, a Bay Area publication.

Thomas is also the author of the book, They Cleared the Lane: the NBA’s Black Pioneers, about the racial and social boundaries black basketball players faced in order to play in the NBA.

Thomas graduated from the University of Rochester in 1971 with a degree in political science. He received his master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 1973. Thomas is an original co-chair of the National Association of Black Journalists Sports Task Force.

Previous recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award include Bob Ley, Dick Schaap, and the late Ralph Wiley.

 

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